I realise that this may appear to be a little off topic. And if the truth be known, I have been out tonight with some girlfriends, and we may have consumed some alcohol, so forgive me if this post does not seem quite so zen or soul searching as previous ones. But I have stuff I need to talk about. And that stuff, tonight, is Spanx.
So this evening, when rummaging about in my underwear drawer while I was getting ready to go out, I came across a pair of Spanx. Not just any pair of Spanx, of course – these Spanx belong to me. I bought them some years ago – I think when I was married – but they have not seen the light of day for some time.
Now, it’s freezing in Sydney tonight. Not by European standards of course, but very cold for New South Wales. There are places 90 minutes south where children are making snowmen in their gardens, which is sufficiently unusual for it to have pretty much consumed my Facebook feed for two days.
So I looked at these Spanx, and they looked warm. Really, really warm. And I thought about how warm I would be if I wore these Spanx under my jeans. So I did it. And I have to say, they felt good. I felt warm, but more than that, I felt kind of held together, secure, like none of my 46 year old flesh was likely to escape and cause me embarrassment.
Later in the evening I nipped to the loo. When I say ‘nipped’ though, I mean I virtually undressed in order to release my nether regions from said Spanx. And whilst I sat, half naked, in a bar toilet, feeling somewhat exposed, I got to thinking about Spanx. And my overwhelming question was…
What are they for?!
The thing about Spanx is that they are not designed to keep namby pamby Sydney Siders warm on winter evenings. They are designed to make women look slimmer – to smooth out all signs of age, childbirth and late night post drinking visits to Macdonalds. All very well of course, if you subscribe to the idea that these things need to be disguised.
So I think the idea is that you wear them so that people can’t tell what your body really looks like.
Let’s think about that for a moment.
Let’s imagine that you are out, as I was this evening, at a bar and you are wearing your Spanx. Because of their unrivalled ability to hold everything in and smooth everything over, you look remarkably svelte, and not at all like you might have produced two children. You are chatting to a guy, who is clearly interested in this smooth, potentially childless you.
And now let’s flip forwards. You’ve been on a few Spanx assisted dates. He’s come over for dinner, and it seems likely that your Spanx might be removed after dessert. Is he going to be disappointed that you are not as svelte as your slimming underwear might suggest, or just appalled at the sheer size and complexity of your knickers – because, let’s face it, anyone who has ever worn Spanx knows how tricky they are to get on and off, and how unattractive they are. The reality is, you don’t ever need anyone you are trying to impress to see underwear like this.
I wondered then whether they are more suited to the longterm relationship. But your longterm partner knows you are not smooth and svelte. He also knows you have given birth to two children. They are probably his children. So should he not revel in the softness of your child-giving body?
I know some of my women friends will tell me that they wear Spanx because they make them feel good, and not for men. Ok. I’ll chose to believe that, and I do. I don’t believe that women wear Spanx purely to attract men, nor to make men feel good.
But I can’t help thinking that this is a little disingenuous. Because by wearing them, we conform to notions about how women ought to look, which is removed from the reality of how we really look, and I can’t help thinking that these are ideas that have been largely formulated by men – not women.
My advice is this. Be proud of your body. Don’t hide it from people – because the people who are lucky enough to ever see it in detail will love it with every soft fold, bulge and stretch mark. Anyone who doesn’t, doesn’t deserve the honour of seeing it.
And only wear your Spanx when you are very, very cold.